Jay Barba and Brian Farrelly’s “Welcome to Purgatory” is an animation short done in that creepy collage style that “Monty Python” made famous (only this animation is more three dimensional), and it is apparently the first in a series of shorts dealing with the fictional seaside town of Purgatory, a place where dead celebrities live and shop. This part of the saga deals with Purgatory’s high school.
Frank Sinatra is the health teacher who must teach sex ed. to a gaggle of dead musicians. There’s Janis Joplin being incomprehensible, the nerdy Kurt Cobain, the suave Hendrix and his partner in crime Tupac, Jim Morrison, the “Def Leppard arm,” and the fat and thin Elvis. Cobain has a crush on Joplin, Sinatra is uncomfortable in his role as guru of sexual wisdom, and Morrison freaks out and exposes himself after some of his classmates make fun of his dismal reading skills. (Where’s GG Allin when you need him? He could’ve stirred up the pot better than the whiny Morrison any day.)
The classroom antics of the dead are fairly entertaining and original. There are few laugh-out-loud moments, but plenty of times where it’s easy to see that this a great idea with tons of potential. Dead celebrities are ripe for cheap shots, but Barba and Farrelly actually treat them with a bit of respect (but not enough respect to kill the humor). Combine that with animation which really fits the subject matter, and it makes for an interesting short that should lead to even better future episodes. Of course, die hard fans of Cobain and Morrison (two groups of people who have no sense of humor) are not going to like this one bit, which actually gives “Welcome to Purgatory” an added bonus. Invite those humorless fools over for a beer, pop the film into the VCR, and let the fun begin. If you’re lucky, they’ll be in tears before the six minutes is up, and you’ll have a few extra chuckles under your belt.